The U.S. Army joined partner and allied nations this week to kick off Exercise Noble Partner in the country of Georgia, which shares a northern border with Russia.
Over 3,000 people gathered in the Vaziani Training Area on Wednesday for the opening ceremony of the exercises, which will run until August 15, according to the Department of Defense.
Joining the United States and Georgia for Noble Partner, an exercise in its fourth iteration this year, are the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Lithuania, Estonia, Poland, Norway, Turkey, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and Armenia.
Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili thanked the participant nations during the opening ceremony.
"Your participation in these exercises is a guarantee of stability and peace," Margvelashvili said. "Today our unity, friendship and common aims are to protect peace, well-being and good health of our citizens. Your contribution to the strength of our states is colossal."
Many Eastern European countries have been stepped up military readiness in recent years for fear of an invasion similar to Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014 and its continued action in Ukraine.
In August 2008, tensions between Georgia and Russia resulted in a Russian invasion of the country. Russia ultimately withdrew following a French-brokered peace deal, but tensions remain high between the two nations. Georgia was a part of the Soviet Union until its dissolution.
U.S. National Guardsman from the state of Georgia are also taking part in the exercises. Air Force Gen. Joseph L. Lengyel, the National Guard bureau chief, spoke at the opening ceremony on behalf of the United States.
"This enduring partnership, based on mutual respect and common interests, has enhanced the capacities of our respective militaries and deepened our understanding and friendships between the U.S. and Georgia," Lengyel said. "Our partnership has expanded to focus more on combat-centric readiness as demonstrated by exercises like this. This exercise should lead to a better understanding of how we exercise, how we operate and how we work together toward a greater security cooperation effort."
The exercise supports the training of the Georgian armed forces’ mechanized and special operations forces, U.S. regionally aligned forces, the U.S. Army, and the U.S. National Guardsmen.
"The U.S. is proud to be a strategic partner with Georgia and every nation present here at this exercise," Lengyel said. "We look forward to continuing our commitment into the future."